Communion Service

Published on Aug 31st, 2017 by Webminister | 0

Serving Communion: Servers Receive First

         A proposal has come forward to the Worship Planning Team: to have the communion servers receive communion before serving the congregation. We are going to try this. And we encourage your feedback. Some background follows below and what this means in a symbolic sense.

         The Protestant reformation changed the understanding of the sacrament of communion from a sacrificial to a commemoration emphasis. As Protestants, we remember Jesus and thereby mystically celebrate the presence of Christ in the gathered community and in the sharing of bread and grape juice. This understanding wouldn’t change.

         The Protestant reformation initiated an emphasis in our tradition of doing and service to others. As a way of underlining this emphasis, living memory of taking communion in the United Church has always been that the servers took communion last; this was symbolic of our servant-based leadership. In recent years, with a reawakening to the importance of spiritual practices, a greater emphasis has been placed on being.

         We, like many congregations and churches, are experiencing burn-out or compassion-fatigue, more generally known as tiredness; ministry staff and volunteers both experience these challenges and so less and less people are getting involved and more people are looking for a healthier balance between doing and being.

         Mel Williams (a retired liberal Baptist minister) has written some articles about how Protestants can recapture a sense of being and how we can find a way to sustain our work and activity. (See and search for Mel Williams.) In one of these articles he spoke about serving communion and how the practice of having the communion servers be served first can help to emphasize that we begin from a place of being filled and abundance and move into service and doing; symbolically, what the practice of receiving communion last emphasizes is we are depleted through service first. Mel Williams wrote, “how can the minister (and volunteers) give what he or she has not received? Or…, ‘You can’t pour from the pitcher what’s not in it.’” (Faith and Leadership website.)

         So, for six months, we’ll serve the communion servers first and then the congregation. Remember, this is a symbolic and intentional act to highlight that we all need to be filled with the Spirit and pay attention to our being.

         Please offer your feedback to Lynne Busby, Shirley Moon, Judy Cameron, Roy Nelson, Robin Murray, or David Boyd (our current Worship Planning Team).





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